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A Witch Does Passover - 2016, part 1

This year's Passover seder (on Friday evening) is more logistically complex than previous years, even though the number of people is fewer.

The first complication came from a request from last year: I used to serve two baked vegetable dishes, baked pearl onions and baked carrots. I was asked to reduce that to one, and perhaps include a different kind of dish. I thought about it, and chose to halve the amount of pearl onions and carrots, and mix them together.

For the replacement dish, I chose mashed cauliflower. That was easy enough, and I'm reasonably pleased with how the mashed cauliflower turned out; it's the garlic and (vegetarian) Parmesan cheese that make it work. Tip for next year: steam the cauliflower in my rice cooker instead of my steaming pot; the results more closely resemble mashed potatoes.

So what's the complication? I was also asked to consider a vegetable sauce for the onions and carrots, perhaps some kind of roux. In the past, I've simply baked the carrots with a dab of oil and dill. So I decided to try creating a sauce for the vegetables.

My one attempt at roux was a disaster. I'm glad I tested it before inflicting it on my guests. It tasted abominable.

I'd like to have some sort of dill sauce for the vegetables, since I'm used to offering dilled vegetables. Finally I fiddled with vegetable margarine, vegetable oil, dill, and lemon juice. It came out a bit strong for my taste, but I plan to drizzle it on the vegetables before I bake them. I hope this will give me the flavor balance I want.

The second complication is more serious: I'm on jury duty. I could have asked for a postponement, but the time to do that was nine days beforehand; I got a case of the stupids and didn't check until it was too late. We're still in jury selection, and it's possible I won't be selected as a juror, but I think it's likely I will be.

This particular court doesn't do jury trials on Wednesdays (they've got other stuff to do), so I had today off. However, I definitely have to show up tomorrow, and on Friday as well if I'm not rejected as a juror. I'd planned to prepare the dishes on Thursday, then show up early at the place of the seder to set things up.

My solution: I'm doing all my cooking today (Wednesday). Thursday evening the hostess of the seder will drop by my place to pick up everything that needs to be refrigerated. I'll pack my car with all those items that don't have to be kept cool (like seder trays). On Friday, when I get out of court at 3PM (they close early for Passover), I'll pick up the roast and drive straight to the seder location. That will eliminate an extra trip back to my place after court is over.

As a domestic emergency, this rates no higher than a 2. (Grade 9 is the Indian Point nuclear plant melting down. Grade 10 is Mom knocking on the door unexpectedly.) Still, I'm glad I was able to figure out a solution without much of a hassle.

There's also one less complication from last year. In my 2015 post, I mentioned that I tried baking soda (actually, baking powder) for my matzoh balls, and that I thought that was kosher for Passover. (Not that it matters much, since apart from not mixing meat with dairy my seder isn't kosher at all.) Someone commented anonymously on that post, saying that baking soda was leavening and could not be kosher. This year, I looked at the ingredients in Manichewitz Matzoh Ball mix. It includes sodium bicarbonate and a phosphate, the ingredients in baking powder, and it's marked kosher for Passover. If I can't trust Manichewitz, whom can I trust?